Review in a Hurry: High school outcast Andrew is a videophile who records everything, even the intense bullying he endures between classes. But all that changes when he and two other students discover something underground that gives them...superpowers!
The best "found footage" flick in years, Chronicle makes great use of the you-are-there POV with stunning in-camera FX. Fanboys, this is a must-see.
The Bigger Picture: It may seem like such a simple tweak but taking the found-footage subgenre out of horror (even Cloverfield was a monster flick) and into superhero territory opens the filmmaking up to a fresh new style. Granted, the first act does plays out like many before: Andrew is just a dweeb with a camera but once the powers kick in...things get awesome.
We're only seeing the footage, so we're limited to glimpses, moments of these teens' lives. While Dan Deehan's (True Blood) Andrew does have an arc of sorts, Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights) is essentially playing Mr. Popular and newcomer Alex Russell is Andrew's more levelheaded, blander cousin. Mostly, they're average kids for whom something astounding happens. The real meat here is just how far they can push things, literally.
Yup, their power is telekinesis: the ability to move objects with their mind. Screenwriter Max Landis has taken inspiration from DC's Action Comics. They'll leap tall buildings, let projectiles bounce off their chest and toss cars.
Watching them experiment becomes a cool mix of the everyday and the outlandish. Like Jackass, but way less gross.
Naturally, one of these heroes makes for a much better villain. Which is good since he's the one who thinks up the really creative ways of wreaking havoc.
Making his feature debut, director Josh Trank takes many of the hero/villain tropes to new heights. A sequence riffing on the old pulling-the-wings-off a butterfly = psychopath routine is really disturbing. From there, the action and set pieces escalate.
The very DNA of these newly altered young men informs the film's look and feel. Soon, the cutting style and movement of the camera is freed from the Blair Witch shaky cam ways. After all, if you can control things with your mind why not have the camera just follow you around? Once we see a flying scene, it's effortless, exhilarating.
The story unfolds exactly as it should, we get to know these boys, and we root for them until we don't. Best of all, the more powerful the characters become—and the less normal they turn out to be—makes Chronicle even more remarkable and unforgettable.
The 180—a Second Opinion: As good as it is, Chronicle feel less like a complete story and more like a really good intro. So here's hoping it's a hit so we can see the next chapter.